Rochdale v Doncaster Rovers: Ferguson to play stronger hand in Trophy tie

MANAGER Darren Ferguson will field a much stronger Doncaster Rovers side tonight as the Checkatrade Trophy moves into the knockout stage.

Manager Darren Ferguson made nine changes for each of Doncaster Rovers' Checkatrade Trophy group games.

The League One side head to Rochdale after finishing second in Group H behind Scunthorpe United.

Rovers made nine changes in each of those three group games, which also featured several debutants from the club’s Academy set-up.

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Ferguson will have one eye on Sunday’s FA Cup second-round home date with Scunthorpe when naming his line-up at Spotland, but he has pledged to send out a strong XI.

“The cup competitions are important to us,” said Ferguson, who lifted the Trophy as Peterborough United manager in 2014.

“The aim in the Checkatrade Trophy was always to get through the group and we managed to do that. We want a good team performance, but I’m also looking for individuals to step up as well and show me that they merit a place in the team.

“We are going up against a team who have a lot of energy, they can play a number of different systems and have an experienced manager in charge.”

Jordan Houghton will miss out tonight after being troubled by a knee problem in recent weeks, but Ferguson added: “There will be changes from the game on Saturday, but it will be a lot stronger than the teams I have put out in the competition so far.”

The fate of Yorkshire’s other two representatives in the competition will be decided tomorrow.

Bradford City, who collected six points from their three games, top Group F, but will be overhauled if Chesterfield beat Manchester City Under-23s either by a two-goal margin or in a high-scoring contest.

Rotherham United currently sit second and have a slim chance of going through, Paul Warne’s side basically needing tomorrow’s final group game to finish as a draw with the Blues’ youngsters then winning the penalty shoot-out.

A home game against Oldham Athletic next Tuesday awaits the group winners, while the runners-up will travel to Fleetwood Town.